"This is not the way to treat people of the country", SC dismisses ED plea seeking cancellation of DK Shivakumar bail

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NEW DELHI: In a major relief to former Karnataka Minister and Congress strongman DK Shivakumar, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea filed by the Enforcement Directorate challenging his bail granted by the Delhi High Court.

 

The order was passed by a Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Ravindra S Bhat with a damning remark to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that this is not the way people of the country should be treated. The remark came when Mehta pressed the court against dismissing the petition and urged for a hearing to the investigating agency.

"This is not the way people of the country should be treated, Mr. Mehta. You should read the dissent in the Sabarimala review... It is for people like you to educate and instruct the officials that our judgments are not to be played with," the Bar & Bench quoted court  as saying.

The bench was irked after it noted that the ED had 'copy-pasted' from their petition against P Chidambaram, former Union Home Minister, who is currently in Tihar jail in connection with the INX Media money laundering case. The petition had apparently referred DK Shivakumar as a former Union Home Minister, instead of calling him an MLA.

The bench also issued notices to the ED based on a petition filed by Shivakumar which sought quashing of charges filed by the Income Tax Department. It was based on the I-T Department's chargesheet that that the ED has registered a case. 

Shivakumar, who had spent 50 days in jail, was granted bail by the Delhi High Court on October 23 after he was arrested by the ED. His previous applications for bail were rejected by the trial court. Granting the bail, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait observed Shivakumar has already been interrogated extensively by the ED since his arrest and custody and his further interrogation was not required anymore.

The Court was of the opinion that the Shivakumar satisfied the triple test for the grant of bail. Justice Kait stated that the ED did not argue that Shivakumar was a flight risk and there was no chance of tampering with evidence as all the documents were already in custody of the agency. It added that there were no allegations of influencing the witnesses as well.

The Court thus proceeded to grant bail to DK Shivakumar on a personal bail bond of Rs 25 lakh with two sureties of the like amount. Shivakumar had moved the High Court for bail last month after the same was rejected by the Special CBI Court.

Shivakumar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on September 3 after undergoing four days of interrogation in relation to the case. The ED had cited Shivakumar's non-cooperation during the questioning as the reason for his arrest.

The ED case against Shivakumar was based on an income tax raid conducted in 2017. A money laundering case was registered against him pursuant to an ECIR on the basis of a complaint filed by the Income Tax authorities for offences punishable under Section 276C (1), 277 and 278 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 read with Section 193, 199 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The ED had been probing accusations of money laundering registered against Shivakumar since August 2017, when a cash amount of Rs 8.86 crore was found at his New Delhi residence. Allegations against him include that he, along with his associates, transferred unaccounted money through hawala transactions to the Congress top brass (with inputs from Bar & Bench and agencies).

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